David Holt to perform at Pocahontas Opera House
Marlinton, W.Va. –
Banjo player extraordinaire David Holt brings his tradition of country music and storytelling to the Pocahontas Opera House Saturday, Sept 8th. The four time Grammy award winner is a musician, historian, television and radio host, and all round entertainer. He talks about how he got started on this crazy career.
“You know it’s pretty simple really,” he says, “I just fell in love with the sound of the banjo, the old claw hammer style banjo; this is back in the 1960’s. And I met Ralph Stanley at a concert – I was going to college in California and he said well if you want to learn that style you need to go back to Asheville or Roanoke, Mt Airy, some place like that. So I moved and just fell in love with the musicians I’ve met here, there were literally hundreds and hundreds at that time.”
(music – Let it Slide)
Here’ is his current home base of Asheville in western North Carolina. Holt says he was fortunate to learn his music from old masters of the genre, many of whom had been born in the late 1800’s. And don’t forget his long friendship with Doc Watson.
“Actually I played with Doc until he passed away in May, for the last 14 years,” says Holt. “That was the highlight of my career really because I had been a fan of Doc Watson since I was 18 and then in this part of my life to be able to sit side by side with him and play on stage for 14 years has been really a wonderful thing. I was always doing my solo concerts, but I think playing with Doc is my favorite. He was such a fabulous musician, and such a great guy. I just learned so much from him about music and about performing and he was like my musical father really.”
And just as he learned from the older musicians, Holt says he’s doing his part to pass that tradition on to younger musicians, like the young man who’ll be joining him at the Opera House Saturday night.
“The person I’m bringing there is Josh Goforth, who’s one of our finest young musicians in North Carolina who’s 31 and just one of these phenomenally skilled musicians who can play any stringed instrument, sing harmony, and do all of that,” he says. “The great thing about Josh is that he was born in Madison County, NC which is where I learned most of my music, so he’s related to all the people that I learned from; they’re old family members so it’s a wonderful kind of completion of the circle.”
Holt’s no slouch himself when it comes to multiple instruments, playing slide guitar, guitar, harmonica, bones, spoons, and jaw harp in addition to the banjo. But there’s more to him that just country and old time Appalachian music -he’s also the host of Riverwalk Jazz, a weekly public radio program spotlighting classic jazz from 1900-1945.
“How does a country musician get into jazz?”
“Well it happened like this,” explains Holt. “Did you ever listen to Prairie Home Companion [radio show]? The producer of that was Garrison’s [Keillor] girlfriend, and when they broke up, she started another show, and it was Riverwalk Jazz. She was looking for someone could interview old people, could tell a story and didn’t sound like Garrison, and that was me. It’s the same era of music that I’m particularly interested in; that is music from early 1900’s through World War II.”
Holt says the Opera House show will showcase instruments both well known
“Josh and I bring a bunch of instruments,” says Holt. “I have my claw hammer banjo, the national steel guitar, the finger picking style guitar I learned directly from Doc Watson. Josh plays fiddle, mandolin, guitar; he’s just fabulous at all those.
and others that are a little more obscure.
“In 1992 I had a chance to meet the oldest person in the world; her name was Susie Brunsen and she lived in Wilmington, NC. She showed me how to play the washboard that she had learned when she was a little girl in the 1870’s. So you think washboard, what’s that going to be? But I mean it is so rocking and kicking, it’s just mind boggling how rhythmic it is.”
Just one of many sounds you’ll hear at the Opera House Saturday, Sept 8th at 7:30pm. Tickets are $10.00 and can be purchased online or at the door.